This blog was kindly contributed by: EVOLVERE Mental Health @evolverementalhealth
Let’s play a quick game. What are the first three things that come to mind when you hear the words ‘mental health’ as a student? Take a minute to think about it. Did you think of relaxing walks, mindfulness tips and breathing techniques? Sure, these things can help you improve your mental health, but there is so much more that you can do.
Mental health is not something that you can achieve after working towards it for a little while. It’s a lifelong process that you have to consistently put work into, through university and beyond.
Like any process, you’ll experience ups and downs, days when you feel like you have everything under control, and days that feel tough to get through. That may sound a little daunting, but you are not alone. There are loads of different strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routines to help you support your mental health.
Let’s push past these trends and buzzwords. Let’s figure out what YOU can actually do to improve YOUR mental health as a student!
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
Like we said before, improving your mental health is a process. This is a process that can be smooth sailing some days and filled with obstacles on others. It might be easier said than done, but try not to let obstacles and setbacks to your progress keep you down. They’re part of the process and you can use them to your advantage.
Learn from your patterns and become stronger from them. When you are faced with an obstacle, think about where it came from, how you reacted to it, and why you had that reaction. The trick is to be completely honest with yourself and judgement-free (which we know is often easier said than done!)
Try using a journal, notebook, or the notes app on your phone to keep track of these experiences and keep an eye out for patterns and triggers, to help you foresee these experiences and respond in effective ways.
Reflect on your positive experiences too to help give you some perspective!
When you get a bad grade, you do not drop out (we hope, anyway). You might feel upset about it, but you eventually re-strategize and prepare yourself for your next evaluation. When you’re behind on a paper, you don’t give up (again, we hope). As frustrated as you might feel, you get an extension and work harder to meet it.
So, when it comes to your mental health, apply that same mindset: when you are faced with obstacles, regroup, pick yourself up, and try again.
You Do You
You probably get advice from family, friends, influencers, and professionals about different things that you can do to improve your mental health as a student, but remember that everything you hear is just that, advice. These tips and strategies are not sure-fire ways to improve your mental health. The advice that you come across can be drawn from personal experiences or even scientifically proven evidence, but it is important to remember that different things work for different people, so you have to figure out what works for you.
Everyone in your class has different study techniques that they swear by – handwritten notes work for some, talking things out works for others, while others rely on a combination of both – and there is nothing wrong with that. So why should the techniques that you use to support your mental health be any different?
Try using all of that advice as inspiration rather than fact. Embrace the trial-and-error method! Test out the tips and strategies that are recommended to you, and keep track of which ones are helpful and which ones are not.
Try adapting each piece of advice to fit you, or combining different options to create something that is a perfect fit for you. If you have given something a try and genuinely do not feel like it works for you, do not be afraid to move on to the next thing. This process also takes time, so don’t beat yourself up if the first couple of things you try don’t work out.
Drop the guilt and do YOU.
What are some of the things that you think influence your mental health as a student? Now, think bigger! Try thinking on a broader scale using the biopsychosocial perspective. Biological, psychological, and social factors all interact to determine your mental health, so why not use strategies that address all of these factors to help support your mental health?
For the biological side, aim to consistently get a good night’s sleep and nourish your body with balanced meals. This means that it is time to rethink those classic student all-nighters and avoid skipping breakfast.
To supplement the psychological side, try countering negative thoughts with positive self-talk and reinforcing it with a personalized mantra. Need help coming up with a mantra that fits?
Start off with “I ___” and fill in the blank with the opposite of your negative thoughts. If you are questioning your ability to pass your classes, try using “I am capable of achieving my goals.” Once you come up with a mantra that works for you, repeat it until its message resonates with you.
On the social side, try forming genuine and supportive relationships with some of your peers or family members. Try putting down your phone, leaving the endless TikTok scrolling for a couple of hours and meeting up with a friend for a meal! Remember, when you are thinking of ways to support your mental health, think bigger!
How do you support your mental health?
Looking for ways to improve your mental health as a student?
Join the conversation at EvolvereMentalHealth.com to push past trends and buzzwords, and find tips and strategies that work for you! For more on our student-driven community, visit our website, follow us on Instagram, and check out our YouTube channel.